Specialist Experience and Skills
Since graduating with a PGCE from The Institute of Education, where my dissertation was on English/Literacy for students with learning differences, I have worked for many years as an Intervention Teacher, responsible to the borough Head of SEN, and also as a one to one English tutor. I use explicit teaching, identify realistic targets and embed core skills. My focus is to provide a positive learning experience by developing a programme of study which engages the student at a personal level, which provides the requisite underpinning skills, knowledge and understanding to help the learner bec... Read More
Since graduating with a PGCE from The Institute of Education, where my dissertation was on English/Literacy for students with learning differences, I have worked for many years as an Intervention Teacher, responsible to the borough Head of SEN, and also as a one to one English tutor. I use explicit teaching, identify realistic targets and embed core skills. My focus is to provide a positive learning experience by developing a programme of study which engages the student at a personal level, which provides the requisite underpinning skills, knowledge and understanding to help the learner become more confident and more astute as a learner.
As well as developing English and language skills, I aim to improve verbal memory, processing speed, organisational skills and working memory skills. Critical thinking skills development underpin all work. Each student receives a genuinely bespoke, realistic, yet challenging programme of study, using continuous assessment to equip the student with the skills and confidence to move to the next level. My approach builds on multi-sensory learning, and I build on student's visual and creative skills. Recognising that different students have preferred learning styles, I work to equip students with a broad range of learning strategies, working with weaknesses as well as strengths and developing task specific strategies. I am particularly interested in developing confidence, a positive mindset and resilience.
My experience of working with students with autism including high functioning autism: I consider myself to be an empathetic teacher able to connect with students and willing to develop a truly bespoke curriculum for each student. To minimise ambiguity or anxiety, it is important that work is scaffolded, ensuring tasks are cumulative, that instructions are clear and that tasks are broken into manageable chunks. One of the great pleasures in one to one work is the opportunity to develop work which builds on each student's individual interests and creates a learning environment where students feel safe and yet also challenges students. Work should move at a pace which suits the child and where they feel confident that the work will be interesting, at the right level of challenge, will encourage an engagement in the wider world and will both empower the student as an individual and provide positive learning outcomes in each session.
My specialist experience teaching English to students with dyslexia: For many years I ran an alternative, out of school provision funded by the borough SEN department. As well as being responsible for managing the whole provision, my specialism was teaching English for those with dyslexia. I then became responsible for developing and delivering a cross campus literacy, functional skills and GCSE support programme for students who have EHCPs. Dyslexia is complex and may involve issues relating to reading, listening, writing and spelling. Each student has a unique learning profile. It is important for a teacher to start with each student’s individual skill set, to identify their strengths and preferred learning styles. Whilst it is important to acknowledge and celebrate the student’s strengths, it is important to develop their skill set, to turn weaknesses into strengths. A typical bespoke programme will identify learning gaps and plug those gaps, address spelling difficulties and develop spelling strategies, students will learn how to plan their writing to suit purpose, developing expressive and receptive communication skills and develop the inferential skills needed to write about the writers intentions and how the reader is affected by the text. The student will also learn how to write creatively and to communicate effectively.
My experience working with students who are anxious or anxious about learning and how I develop confidence and self esteem: Learning starts with the student and teaching starts with understanding the student and then developing a meaningful, positive and purposeful relationship which empowers the student. True learning can only happen when a student is intrinsically motivated. Successful learning experiences are the most powerful way we can change mindset, improve resilience and generate and sustain a positive outlook. A teacher, foremost, needs to be empathetic, to centre the student, to ensure that each engagement is a positive one, each lesson is scaffolded to ensure that the student understands what they must do and becomes confident that they can achieve. Targets, therefore, are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time bound. The pace of lessons should match the preferred pace of the student with inbuilt opportunities to stretch and challenge, to nudge the student gently out of their comfort zone. Where possible, the starting point should be the student’s strengths and interests. The teacher should be flexible and adaptable, lessons cumulative, and should seek to build a learner’s confidence through collaborative learning. Often, the student does not realise their potential because learning is not shaped to suit their personality, interests and ability. A well thought out programme of study, shaped to the student’s personality and academic ability will do much to restore belief, engagement, energy and learning.
English is well suited as a site in which, scaffolded within different tasks, we can learn different ways of thinking about ourselves and others. Whether we think about similes and metaphors, writer’s intentions or the effect of writing on the reader. We can tease out and think about ambiguity, we can make inferences about the emotional and social worlds, identify and think about the multivocal complexity in human communication and consider the human condition. Learning about English, therefore, improves communication, expressive and receptive skills, the ability to write effectively, our ability to think and feel, Cumulatively, English improves our confidence, wellbeing and thoughtfulness.
My specialist experience working with students with processing and memory difficulties: It is important to make learning meaningful to the students and to present tasks in ways that align with how the student understands the world. It is important to start with the students preferred learning style and to embed tasks which appeal to their strengths. Often students prefer to learn, relearn and overlearn in different ways, using a multisensory approach which allows them to identify if different tasks are better suited to an auditory, kinaesthetic or visual approach. Repetition, rehearsal and revisiting are helpful. Students learn how to use colour and visualisation to aid retention. Information should be chunked, broken down into manageable parts. Work should be scaffolded. It is important to match skill to task. For example, mnemonics will help students to remember tricky spelling which do not follow spelling rules, whilst acronyms with help students to remember those concepts which they need to include in the responses to particular questions whether it be creative writing responses or techniques used in writing to argue and persuade.
My experience in teaching study skills and executive functions: My experience of teaching study skills and in addressing issues emergent from executive function tells me that work needs to be clearly signposted, anchored and embedded in real work skills and tasks relating to the specific targets the student is working towards. Study skills training needs to be appropriate and relevant. Whilst there are specific study skills which relate to specific subskills, spelling strategies, for example, there are also wider set of study skills which related to thinking about and writing about English texts, and to exam requirements. We are fortunate that the English examining boards have been very, very explicit in indicating how each question should be answered, and they have provided models and clear marking schemes which help students to understand texts and how to structure their responses. Once learned, the response to text approach is easily adopted to ensure success in responding to any text. Understanding how the examiners award marks is an essential skill. Using colour coded mind maps, acronyms and sentence starters will provide students with a memorable footprint for success. Fortunately, the advice from the examiners is very specific. For example, we know which four sentence starters the examiners want us to use to gain a pass in the structure question in paper 1 and we know the structural features which we can write about which will help us raise our grades turning us from being a good student, to being an exceptional student.